Your Cat’s Big Moving Day
To make sure your cat stays safe and doesn’t bolt out the front door while you or the movers are carting boxes and furniture out of the house, keep your cat in a separate room. You can either empty the contents of that room ahead of time and just have his carrier in there and a couple of empty boxes (as extra hiding places) and his litter box, or make that the last room the movers will enter (you’ll put your cat in his carrier beforehand). Instruct everyone involved with the move where the cat is located and as an extra precaution, post a sign on the closed door. If you’re concerned someone might still open the door, keep the cat inside the carrier during the moving process.
If the moving process will totally freak out your cat, talk to your veterinarian about boarding him for the day if your new location will still be in the same town.
The New Home for You and Your Cat
Cat proof! Cat proof! Cat proof! Go through the house and look for potential dangers (window screens that aren’t secure, places where the cat can get stuck, etc.) and make the necessary preparations so it will be a safe home for your cat.
Set up a sanctuary room for your cat so he’ll have a safe and quiet place initially. Set up this room with some familiar furniture, his litter box, food and water bowls, scratching post, toys and some hideaways. Since the house will be totally unfamiliar, it’ll be less overwhelming for him to be confined in one room so he can get his bearings and start to create some familiarity.
When Should Your Cat Explore the New Environment?
Depending on whether your cat is stressed or frightened will determine when to let him out to gradually expose him to more of the new environment. When you do open the door to start letting him investigate, set up an additional litter box in the spot where you’ll permanently want to locate it (if the house has more than one story place at least one box on each floor). Keep the litter box set up in the sanctuary room so your cat will always have a safe place to return to if he isn’t comfortable venturing too far out of his comfort zone. If you don’t plan on keeping the box in the sanctuary room located there permanently, wait until he’s totally comfortable with the other box location(s) and then you can gradually move that box a few feet a day toward the new box location. You just don’t want to shock him by having the box disappear suddenly.
Engage your cat in interactive play sessions to help him form positive associations with the new house. If he’s very frightened you’ll have to start these sessions in the sanctuary room and then work your way into the hallway. Go at your cat’s pace. Don’t ask him to venture too far out if he’s not ready.
Use Familiar Scents
Help your cat become find familiar scents in the home by either using Feliway in the spray or diffuser form (available at pet product stores) or use my sock method. Take a clean sock, put it on your hand and then gently pet your cat around the mouth to collect his facial pheromones. Then, rub the sock on the corners of objects (at kitty’s nose height). He’ll think he facially rubbed there and that may help him become more comfortable in the environment. Do this several times.